Youth take mission trip to Puerto Rico

For morning devotionals, DJ Maar and the rest of the group
sit on the beach in Arecibo. Each day had a theme which was
presented at the morning devotionals and then carried
through until the group worship time at night.

A group of 16 teens and four adults from Grace United Methodist Church youth group got an up-close look at how the other half lives during a week-long mission trip to Puerto Rico July 6-13.

Funded through church fundraising and donations, the trip was organized through YouthWorks, a Christian mission trip agent based in Minnesota.

During the experience, the group was immersed in local culture, ate local cuisine, brushed up on its Spanish and spread Christian joy to young and old alike in Arecibo, a municipality situated in the northern Midwest coast of Puerto Rico. Divided into four groups, their visit included stops at a retirement facility, Boys and Girls Club campus, and post-prison outreach ministry facility.

The trip also allowed time for some sightseeing. Hot spots included local beaches, historic towns and ports.

Ben Dumas, youth director at Grace United, said the outing was truly an eye-opening experience for all who participated. Through spreading Christian love and acceptance, the group was able to see just how impactful giving of one's self can be in the lives of those mired in the throes of abuse or neglect.

"We kind of refer to it as relational ministry," Dumas said. "Going on a mission trip is about more than building a house. Even just being with somebody, I think we learned how big relationships are and how big it is for someone to know someone is there for them."

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